STEWARDS QUESTIONED WEBBER OVER MASSA MOVE
Thursday 16th October 2008
Fresh controversy over the stewarding of the Japanese GP has been sparked by the revelation that Felipe Massa's move past Mark Webber on the penultimate lap was investigated - but only to determine if the Red Bull driver ought to be punished for allegedly forcing the World Championship contender wide.
In the process of overtaking Webber for the final points-paying position, Massa crossed the white lines along the pit-straight deemed to indicate the limits of the race track. As Massa passed the Australian, all four wheels of his Ferrari were placed in the pit-lane exit, prompting some observers, especially during these litigious times, to question whether his move illegal. By the letter of the rulebook, any driver who leaves the race-track has committed an offence that warrants a penalty.
However, far from probe Massa's manoeuvre, the stewards are instead reported to have questioned Webber over whether he resisted the Ferrari too robustly - an offence that Sebastian Bourdais was seemingly found guilty of.
'It turns out the stewards spoke to Webber about this,' reports The Times' F1 correspondent Ed Gorman in his blog. 'They were quite happy with Massa's driving at this point but were concerned about Webber "pushing Massa into the wall." There was "never any question in relation to the legality" of Massa's move. The stewards saw this as primarily a safety issue.'
As an aside, Gorman also reports that the stewards remain adamant that they were right to punish Lewis Hamilton for allegedly forcing Kimi Raikkonen off the track at the first corner of the race.
'I have the impression that the powers-that-be regard Lewis's driving in Fuji at Turn 1 as bordering on reckless and that if he had touched another car or caused an accident he would be looking at a 10-place penalty in Shanghai,' he claims.
It's unclear whether the 10-place penalty would have been imposed in addition to his drive-through penalty at Suzuka. Immediately after the race, Kimi Raikkonen accused Hamilton of hitting his Ferrari, but, after footage to the contrary materialised, he withdrew the claim. As yet, there has been no confirmation from the stewards that, they also investigated the driving of Heikki Kovalainen, who definitely did bang wheels with Raikkonen's Ferrari and was apparently guilty of forcing his fellow Finn off the track.
Source : Planet F1